Smarting from international criticism of police violence against opposition rallies, Russian authorities have found a peaceful method to repel protesters: huge piles of manure.
City fathers in Murmansk, an Arctic city, thwarted plans for an anti-Kremlin meeting on Tuesday at the city’s central Palace of Culture by blocking the building’s entrances and surrounding it with piles of dung-based fertiliser, according to the independent Ekho Moskvi radio station.
When several hundred members of chess champion Gary Kasparov’s “Other Russia” protest movement showed up for the rally — which had been prohibited by authorities — they found themselves confronting not the usual ranks of helmeted riot police, but an overpowering stench.
"The stink was unbelievable, hardly any of us could stand it," Yelena Vasilyeva, a local leader of Kasparov’s movement, told the radio station. About 150 people stayed briefly, shouting slogans such as “Russia without Putin” and “Down with the Police State”, but the meeting quickly broke up without incident.
Russian authorities have been accused of overreacting to Other Russia marches in the past, including an April rally in Moscow where hundreds of protesters were beaten by riot police.